When I began helping people declutter, I read a lot of books about getting organized. One of the first authors I laid my hands on was Peter Walsh. His proclamation that “it’s not just about the stuff” has rung ever more true for me the longer I work as a professional organizer.
I often have friends and family of hoarders contact me and ask me what they can do to help. The first question I ask is, is the friend/relative receiving any kind of mental health care? Once people get past a certain level on the Clutter Hoarding Scale (I require any potential clients at a Level II or greater to be receiving some type of mental health care before I will agree to work with them) the challenge is far, far deeper than just cleaning up the physical space.
The best thing friends and family can do is help the hoarder get connected with proper mental health care. One modality frequently used and recommended is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Other techniques and modalities such as Bio Energetic Synchronization Technique (BEST) and Neurofeedback (NFB) may also be useful in helping the chronically disorganized get on track with clearing both the emotional and physical clutter.
In addition to being a professional organizer and clutter coach, I’m also a certified BEST practitioner and have been conducting a case study with some of my clients who are both working with a professional organizer and receiving BEST treatments as a part of the collaborative effort to help them move forward. The results have so far been extremely positive.
One case study participant who was initially presenting at a Level III on the Clutter Hoarding Scale, established by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, in particular has made incredible strides in the four months we have been working together. After being able to trace her hoarding behavior to a recurring pattern of feeling abandonment, she was able to see how she was accumulating things to try block other people from getting too close and then abandoning her too. She was also able to understand how patterns her father instilled in her when he would take her shopping to try to make her feel better after feeling abandoned helped fuel the shopping addiction (she USED to have!) that filled her home to the brim.
Using forgiveness and mindfulness in her day to day life after BEST treatments, this participant was able to release these old patterns and thus start releasing the physical objects in her life that are no longer serving her as well. Just the other day she was able to start and finish decluttering her car all by herself – this is really a HUGE milestone and I look forward to celebrating more milestones as the case study continues. Learn more about the case study.